08/11/2005 11:00PM

New York-breds sell well at Saratoga

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Topped by a Giant's Causeway colt at $1.1 million, New York-breds were well received at the Fasig-Tipton selected Saratoga yearling sale last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ten statebreds grossed $3.3 million for an average of $330,000, slightly above the overall sale average of $324,417.

European bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne, whose patrons Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier raced Giant's Causeway, signed the ticket for the yearling, who was the top-priced colt on the first night of the sale.

Giant's Causeway was one of the world's leading first-crop sires of 2004, with several group winners in Europe.

"I was very impressed with First Samurai here and I'm convinced Giant's Causeway is going to do the same in America as he has done in Europe," said O'Byrne.

First Samurai is a juvenile son of Giant's Causeway who appears headed for the Aug. 27 Hopeful Stakes following an impressive first-level allowance score at the Spa on Aug. 7.

Speaking of the yearling, O'Byrne said, "I thought this was a very good-looking specimen by him and a great mover."

The colt was consigned by Eaton Sales as agent for Albert Fried Jr. of Buttonwood Farm in Rhinebeck.

He is out of Exchange Place, who is a full sister to Fried's popular runner Affirmed Success, winner of the Cigar Mile, Vosburgh and Carter, all Grade 1 races. Her dam, Towering Success, has also dropped stakes-placed runners Truman's Raider and Rapunzell.

The colt's third dam is Social Lesson, the dam of Exbourne, winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Handicap, plus graded stakes winners Top Socialite and Expelled.

The next-highest price for a New York-bred at the sale was for a son of Tale of the Cat out of Mrs. Filio, by Eastern Echo.

Consigned by Sugar Maple Farm with Eaton Sales as agent, the colt was purchased for $575,000 by M.W. Miller III.

Mrs. Filio is out of stakes winner Mrs. Flagler, the dam of stakes-placed runners It's Chemistry and Saratoga Madame.

Mrs. Flagler's dam is Mrs. Warren, winner of the Matron and Spinaway, both Grade 1 races.

Sold for $400,000 was a New York-bred filly by Dixieland Band who is a full sister to New York-bred stakes winner Jena Jena.

Consigned by John Hettinger's Akindale Farm with Eaton Sales as agent, she was bought by Live Oak Plantation.

Jena Jena is out of With a Wink, a Clever Trick mare who won the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap and who has also produced New York-bred stakes winner Up Like Thunder.

With a Wink is a half-sister to the multiple-stakes-winning sprinter Raja's Shark.

Ten of the 11 statebreds offered at the sale were sold. Besides the $1.1 million Giant's Causeway colt, eight of the other nine sold for six figures.

Commentator stirs memories of Fio Rito

Fio Rito was certainly on the minds of New York breeders last weekend when Commentator won the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Fio Rito, bred and owned by Raymond LeCesse, invaded Saratoga from his Finger Lakes base and won the 1981 Whitney in an upset against favored Winter's Tale, whose rally fell short at the end of 1 1/8 miles.

It was a breakthrough victory in top- class competition for New York-breds in the early years of the modern state program, which began in 1973 with the creation of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.

Commentator, bred by Michael Martinez, was foaled and raised at Thomas Gallo's Blue Stone Farm in Cambridge, about 20 miles east of Saratoga Springs.

The 4-year-old gelding, owned by Tracy Farmer and trained by new Hall of Famer Nick Zito, became the 17th New York-bred winner of an open stakes race in 2005, and the eighth New York-bred winner of a group or graded stakes.

He is the second Grade 1 New York-bred stakes winner of 2005, joining Prioress winner Acey Deucey.

Commentator is by Distorted Humor, also the sire of New York-bred graded winners Funny Cide, Go Rockin Robin, and Sensibly Chic.

He is out of the Storm Bird mare Outsource, a half-sister to Cogburn, winner of the Rutgers Stakes and placed in the Grade 3 Jersey Derby.

Commentator's third dam, Quite Honestly, is the mother of Hot Novel, winner of the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Breeders' Cup and the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Behrens, an earner of more than $3 million.

Commentator lifted his earnings to $660,092 with 7 wins from 8 starts.

State program incentive awards of $20,000 (owner) and $10,000 (breeder), go, respectively, to Farmer and Martinez.